Wednesday, April 16, 2008

13. Long Beards

White men used to love elongated facial hair.

Historically, long beards were worn to differentiate men from the hideous white women they were forced to mate with. Without beards, it would have been nearly impossible to tell men from women, and the resulting sexual ambiguities would have destroyed Anglo-Saxon society as we knew it.

The beard was also a signifier of one's manhood. And if anyone in history needed assistance in re-affirming their 'man-ness', it was the pathetic white male. Sadly, Manifest Destiny alone was not enough.

Beards really came into vogue in White America in the mid 1860s, and lasted until the departure of Benjamin Harrison from the White House. It seems a photograph or daguerreotype from the era wasn't complete without some dude in a long, scruffy beard, trying to look badass while his homely wife scowled next to him.

It didn't matter if you were a doctor, lawyer, politician or pimp ... if you were a white male during these times, you had a long beard — and head lice.

In the 1960s. Hippies tried to re-popularize the long, unkempt, woolly beard. But like everything else Hippies attempt to do, their efforts had the complete opposite effect. The beards (and the Hippies) were largely rejected by white society. When Richard Nixon famously referred to 'the silent majority', he was actually referring to the 'silent, uptight, clean-shaven majority.'

Sadly, outside of ZZTop and the Iron & Wine guy, long beards are not really in fashion for white people today. Why? Presumably the same reason why white men now regularly keep their pubic hair neatly manicured and drink Iced Lattes.

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